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Rusted Root singers combine talents, start tour

Liz Berlin and Jenn Wertz have long been integral members of Rusted Root, albeit as background singers, while developing their own solo careers.

Now, they’re blending their vocal talents together. Earlier this week, Berlin and Wertz launched a 12-city tour that finds them playing Mr. Small’s Theatre in Millvale on Friday. Wertz says that the venture came out of a need to stay creative as songwriters and performers in the larger context of Rusted Root.

“There’s a trust and familiarity,” Berlin says. “We sort of know where the other is going to go, musically, and we can wind our voices together in very powerful ways.”

Tickets for the 9 p.m. show are $10. Details: (800) 594-8499 or www.mrsmalls.com .

– Rege Behe

Remark by Dixie Chick causes new controversy

The Dixie Chicks are in hot water again. Or should we say der Teufels Kuche• Group member Martie Maguire is quoted in the Sept. 20 issue of Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine saying the group no longer considers itself part of the country music community after the often hostile response from country radio and fans to Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines’ comment in March criticizing President Bush over his Iraq stance.

Maguire is quoted saying the trio feels more affinity with “the big rock ‘n’ roll family now” in the wake of supportive statements from Bruce Springsteen and other rockers. Fans are responding strongly again, pro and con, prompting Maines to post a largely whimsical response — in German and English — on the Chicks’ Web site: “Country radio called and wants to know if it’s true that (we’re) leaving country music• This one must be a prank call … How can you leave a party when the hosts had shown you to the door six months ago?”

A band spokeswoman said the group would have no further comment.

– Los Angeles Times

Memo asks film studios to not send out screening cassettes

The Motion Picture Association of American has sent member companies a draft of a proposal to “combat digital piracy and save jobs in the future,” Variety reports.

Sent to executives such as Walt Disney Co.’s Robert Iger, Vivendi Universal’s Ron Meyer, Paramount’s Jonathan Dolgin and Fox’s Peter Chernin, the memo asked that studios agree to stop sending out screening cassettes or DVDs of their movies during the coming awards season unless they are already in the home video marketplace.

Because the Oscar awards period is short this year, video copies are considered even more important for a film’s exposure. Smaller films could get lost in the shuffle.

“We’ll obviously have to do many more screenings to get our films seen,” said one studio executive. “But the good news is that the movies will be seen in the way that they were meant to be seen — on the big screen. If a small film, like a ‘Whale Rider,’ has positive buzz, it should be fine — though some people may have passed on seeing it during the commercial run, expecting to catch it on video.”

An executive from another studio was less optimistic. “Voters like having access to those cassettes, which are so much part of the system, ” he said. “Passage of the proposal would depend on getting a few people to sign on early enough to convince others to go along. That kind of unilateral decision is highly unusual. The political equivalent was Russ Feingold running for office using the guidelines of the McCain-Feingold campaign financing bill to show that it could work. While we have a lot of politicos in Hollywood, I’m not sure there’s a Feingold among them.”

– Los Angeles Times

Paris Review to proceed with anniversary party

Just as George Plimpton would surely have wished, The Paris Review will proceed with an eclectic 50th-anniversary celebration of the influential literary quarterly.

“George was the ultimate host, so he would want the party to go on,” associate editor Thomas Moffett said Monday. Plimpton, the magazine’s famously extroverted editor, died in his sleep Thursday night at age 76.

The event will be held Oct. 14 at Cipriani’s, an upscale restaurant in midtown Manhattan, and will reflect both Plimpton’s literary tastes and nonliterary passions.

Guests will include authors Kurt Vonnegut, E.L. Doctorow and Paul Auster, and actors Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton. Besides readings from works that have appeared in the magazine, the party will include an indoor fireworks show and a cancan line.

“His spirit would have balked at the idea of turning this into a funereal occasion,” said Auster, whose novels include “The Music of Chance” and “The Book of Illusions.”

Meanwhile, staffers at The Paris Review have a magazine to put together. Plimpton had just made his final edits on a special anniversary issue coming out in October, and work is starting on the winter issue, due in December.

There was no formal succession plan, and no replacement has been named. In 2000, a foundation was established to ensure the magazine would continue after Plimpton.

“We’ve never been in this situation,” Moffett says, “We’re just continuing the way we have been and working together.”

The Paris Review was founded in 1953 by authors Peter Matthiessen and Harold L. Humes, who both wanted a publication that emphasized literature over literary criticism. Plimpton joined as the magazine’s editor and ran it until his death.

Countless careers have been helped by an excerpt in The Paris Review, from Philip Roth and Jack Kerouac to Rick Moody and Jeffrey Eugenides. The magazine also published entensive interviews in which Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and others discussed their craft.

Based in New York since the mid-1970s, The Paris Review is an intimate operation, with about eight editors, a handful of readers and three to four interns in offices housed downstairs from Plimpton’s Upper East Side apartment.

– The Associated Press

Onstage today

Cultural events in the city today include:

  • ALW Entertainment presents “Madea’s Class Reunion” at 8 p.m. Performances continue through Saturday at the Benedum Center, Seventh Street and Penn Avenue, Downtown. $25.50 to $39.50. (412) 456-6666.

  • Pittsburgh Public Theater presents “The Mikado” at 8 p.m. Performances continue through Oct. 26 at the O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $36 to $53. (412) 316-1600.

    People in the News



    CNN commentator’s joke on Fox backfires on him

    Conservative CNN commentator Tucker Carlson ‘s snide humor backfired on him — and his wife.

    While defending telemarketers during a segment on “Crossfire” last week, the bow-tied co-host was asked for his home phone number. Carlson gave out a number, but it was for the Washington bureau of Fox News, CNN’s bitter rival.

    The bureau was deluged with calls. To get back at him, Fox posted Carlson’s unlisted home number on its Web site. After his wife was inundated with obscene calls, Carlson went to the Fox News bureau to complain. He was told the number would be taken off the Web site if he apologized on the air. He did, but that didn’t end the anger.

    In an interview with The Washington Post, Carlson called Fox News “a mean, sick group of people.”

    Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti said Carlson got what he deserved. “CNN threw the first punch here. Correcting this mistake was good journalism.”

    Dido launches new album with trans-Atlantic concerts

    Singer Dido launched her new album Monday, playing the first of a planned pair of trans-Atlantic shows in London and then jetting to New York for a second performance.

    Dido was promoting “Life for Rent,” which went on sale in British stores yesterday and was to be sold in the United States starting today. The album already has reached No. 1 on Amazon.com’s British music site and hit third on the U.S. site.

    She played an hourlong acoustic set yesterday morning in the Virgin music store on London’s Oxford Street before leaving for Heathrow airport. She took a chartered plane to New York, where she was scheduled to play later in the day at a Virgin store in Manhattan’s Union Square.

    Dido, 30, sang three songs from her new album, including the current hit “White Flag,” along with a rendition of “Thank You” from her debut album.

    “I’ve been waiting and waiting for this day, and it’s a little bit surreal,” she said. “It’s so much fun, it’s making me giggle. I feel like a princess today.”

    Blaze on Berry’s property was arson, fire officials say

    A fire that destroyed a building on Chuck Berry ‘s property in Wentzville, Mo., was intentionally set, Wentzville fire officials said.

    “Now it’s a matter of trying to determine who and why,” says Austin Worcester, assistant chief for the Wentzville Fire Protection District.

    No one was injured in the two-alarm blaze that started around 6:30 p.m. Sept. 20. Berry was out of town.

    The building, known as the old Chuck Berry lodge, was on property about 40 miles outside St. Louis, near Wentzville. It had eight suites and used to house Berry’s visitors, but Worcester says it had been used for storage in recent years. Other buildings on the property were not damaged.


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